Angua

Forum Idea/Suggestion: Zombie Thread Marker?

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Just a random thought I had: For some reason, it seems that a lot of old threads have been unwittingly resurrected lately -- I've noticed several posts where people are responding to or asking questions of people who posted 2 or more years ago.  Especially this time of year, many threads are fairly time-sensitive, so I wondered if there could be a good way to identify these "zombies"?  Maybe a notation or icon that shows up when a thread has been dormant for a certain period of time (say a year), and then stays put when new responses are added?  It's not a perfect solution, as some threads are relevant every year (though people tend to re-post those topics after a few months anyway), but a zombie thread marker would help other readers be aware that the early parts of the thread, at least, are likely to be old/out-of-date.

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This has been an ongoing issue as long as I've been using the forums. I second this.

 

One option might be to simply close threads that have been inactive for more than, say, 6 weeks. The advantage to closing the thread to further posts is that folks unfamiliar with the symbol (who would also likely be the newest profiles and most likely to "resurrect") wouldn't be able to unwittingly post anyway, which would then make the thread active again and nullify any coded-in posting of "zombie" symbols or headers. I'm betting the forum software already supports integrated scripts to run through the threads and close dormant ones, so this probably would not require custom coding or extensive moderator intervention on every thread.

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I sympathize with this sentiment, but many old threads contain information that is still useful and relevant to this application cycle, even though they were created a long time ago. Flagging these threads will inevitably make them appear less relevant. We already get the same questions asked over and over again by new posters anyway, but at least in some cases we also have new posters search and read these older threads to find answers to their questions. I would hate to do anything to discourage that. Furthermore, I am not sure that reviving an old thread is always a bad thing. Sure, replying directly to someone's time-sensitive question from two years ago isn't helpful, but at other times dragging up an existing older thread with useful advice will save everybody some time and bring this information to more posters' attention.

 

If people have suggestions as to how to "flag" threads in a way that won't discourage them from being read and used, I am all ears. I am at the moment not sure whether there is a way to automatically implement your ideas, so others on the moderating team will have to decide if this is at all possible. However, I can tell you for sure that suggestions that require mods to individually go through old threads and flag them will not go very far. 

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In theory, we could set a rule that would automatically archive posts older than a certain date. It'd end up something like what the Meet and Greet archived years are... However, my thinking is similar to fuzzy's in that there's a lot of great information in those posts that people can and do reference (especially now that the search feature is working well again). I'd hate to see that institutional knowledge get lost just because a few people resurrect "zombie" posts. I've seen some of those resurrections be quite beneficial, in part because they usually aren't on posts dealing with one person's specific situation but rather something more general affecting graduate students or grad applicants.

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There was one forum I saw that would pop up with some dialog box when you were accidentally resurrecting a Zombie thread. The dialog box/warning would be like "Alert: You are responding to a thread that is X years old, are you sure you want to reply?" Can you do something like that? That way no information gets lost and it prevents zombie resurrections.

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As far as I can tell, no. Bgk is the better person to consult about those kinds of things as I'm not really super-knowledgeable about the software we use and its capabilities. But a quick look at the options indicates that there's no simple way to make that happen.

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As far as I can tell, no. Bgk is the better person to consult about those kinds of things as I'm not really super-knowledgeable about the software we use and its capabilities. But a quick look at the options indicates that there's no simple way to make that happen.

There may not be "add this option" dialogue box on the admin page, but I'd be surprised if this functionality wasn'tbuilt into the PHP script--it is probably a manner of activating it through the command line prompt. Also, if for some reason this functionality isn't part of the default version, IP.Board, the software behind this forum, has a large modding community--so more or less anything you want done has probably already been made by somebody else and is available for free (http://community.invisionpower.com/). I'll try to take some time to look around later this week to find the relevant mods, but anyone else could start looking sooner if they have time.

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Feel free to do the relevant research. It's so far down on the list of changes we want to make to the site, in large part because it is not a major problem or one that crops up very often. We have many, many more pressing issues to handle, I assure you.

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